A talent for new writing
Image of Joe Sproulle (Spencer) and Alwyne Taylor (Val) in Sing Something Simple.
Guest blog by Sally Marshall of Dark Horse Theatre
After delivering workshops and talks with local writers groups in the area, with swathes of positive and enthusiastic feedback, it is clear to all of us at Dark Horse Theatre that there’s a vast interest and talent within Kirklees for new writing, whether creating, reading or appreciating.
As a company, we are committed and passionate about developing, sharing and creating new work from our base in West Yorkshire.
For those of you who enjoy seeing words on the page brought to life and played out on stage with exceptional casts and superb production values, we will be opening our latest national tour in our hometown of Huddersfield.
In 2008, we welcomed a new Artistic Director – the many times published and often produced playwright Vanessa Brooks. As with all the shows since her arrival, Sing Something Simple is a new work written with the actors in mind. This theme of new, fresh and relevant work is at the core of the company and drives us forward, contributing to our excellent reputation as an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation.
Sing Something Simple is a brand new play written and directed by Vanessa. It’s a wonderful, breath of fresh air; a laugh-out-loud comedy.
The play explores themes of jealousy and ambition wrapped up in a heart-warming tale about Spencer Parkin, a young man who can’t sing and is surrounded by a family of talented musicians. Inspired by his late granddad, session singer Gerry Parkin, he goes on a quest for fame, which takes him all the way to the Royal Albert Hall.
During a tea break in week three of rehearsals, I asked Vanessa how the process had been for her as a writer.
“I’ve always written plays casting around plot and character before – aware of a particular slot at the theatre that I’ve been commissioned to write for. So, for example, if it’s a comedy in the summer months at the Stephen Joseph, cutting my cloth accordingly and keeping the subject matter light and the dialogue snappy.
“Here at Dark Horse, as Artistic Director, there’s a wonderful opportunity to work a little differently, which is always welcome as a writer when you’re used to doing things in a certain way as it stretches you.
“I knew I wanted the play to have a central role for one of our regular actors, Joe Sproulle, and so I crafted the character directly around him, his personality and strengths and decided to do the same for the actors I cast from the wider business – in one instance writing around an actor’s musical ability with the mandolin and violin.
“I’ve really enjoyed this approach – Mike Leigh adopts a similar actor-led process and its definitely something I’ll do again. It makes the characters very vital and in a comedy that’s a real asset.”
For more information, please visit the Dark Horse Theatre website.